The NHL Hall Class of 2016 will be announced on Monday night June 27th and it’s not as if this one will be easy, because it features the weakest 1st-year eligible group in years. Why is that more relevant this year than most? Because the incumbents, those like Eric Lindros, an all-time hockey enigma, are amongst those on that bubble of immortality. For six years the debate has raged on as to whether 88, such a polarizing figure in his sport since he defied the ruling class of the NHL as a junior superstar and pretty much manipulated a wealthy and soft landing in Philadelphia. Injuries and drama plagued Lindros over the course of a career shortened by severe concussions and marked by the never ending feud involving Eric Lindros his parents Bonnie and Carl and Flyers GM Bobby Clarke. How much this effects his legacy and hindered production is anyone’s guess. However, Lindros has 373 goals and 492 assists so while his total of 865 points may not get him in top tens and all time lists, he accomplished those numbers in just 760 regular season games. Waiting six years I think is enough, and I believe now that he’s back in the Flyers “family” and the addition of Bob Clarke to the selection committee gets him the nod Monday.
Next up, and this gotta be a lock, is Mark Recchi. Not only did he play 22 seasons he played them at the highest level, winning three Stanley Cups as a player. He retired as the 12th all-time leading scorer and 4th in total games played. Mark Recchi is also the oldest player in NHL history to score a Cup winning goal with Boston in 2011 after declaring his desire to skate off into the sunset. He also won the Cup three times with three different teams (Penguins, Hurricanes and Bruins) and put up 577 goals and 956 assists for 1,533 points over 22 NHL seasons. Fellow nominee Rod Brind’Amour said of Recchi: “I don’t know what more you need to do to be a Hall of Fame player.” Recchi defined winner and tomorrow night has to be recognized by his peers for his contributions to the game. His 92 season of 52 goals and 70 assists remain one of the most remarkable I’ve seen in any sport and earns him a place in this class alongside his linemate Eric Lindros.
My 2016 Hall of Fame bubble:
SERGEI MAKAROV: His 384 NHL points and Calder Trophy season as rookie of the year must be combined with his dominant international career for the Soviet Union when Makarov averaged 1.37 points a game, won two Olympic gold medals and eight world championships.
DAVE ANDREYCHUK: The captain of the 2004 Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning put up 1,338 points in 1,639 regular-season games over 23 seasons.
ALEXANDER MOGILNY: Second only to 2015 inductee Sergei Fedorov in NHL points among Russians with 1,032, Mogilny won the Cup and was a six-time All-Star in 16 seasons.
PAUL KARIYA: Like Lindros, concussions cut Kariya’s career short, but he finished with 989 points in 989 games over 15 seasons and made the All-Star Game seven times.
JEREMY ROENICK: His 1,216 points rank him fourth among U.S. players and the top three — Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Phil Housley — are all in.
CURTIS JOSEPH: Not winning a Cup hurts a goaltender, but his 454 victories are the most of any not in the Hall.
ROD BRIND’AMOUR: Was captain of the 2006 Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, had 1,184 points and won the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward.
THEO FLEURY: Overcame his 5-foot-6 size disadvantage to put up 1,084 points and win almost everything: the Stanley Cup, Canada Cup, Olympic gold medal and world junior gold medal.
CHRIS OSGOOD: Won the Cup twice as a starting goalie and again as a backup, but benefited from playing on talented Detroit Red Wings teams.
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